Last week, the telecom giant Sprint announced that it would start using AirCarbon, the carbon-negative PHA material made by Newlight Technologies from greenhouse gas instead of petroleum, to produce the company's newest black and pink cell phone cases for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. This week, it's Dell, who today announced that the company plans to launch AirCarbon-based packaging this fall, beginning with the packaging sleeves around new Dell Latitude series notebooks. AirCarbon, it would appear, is on a roll.
For over 10 long years, Newlight Technologies concentrated on developing and perfecting its technology for producing plastics from air. In January of this year, the company announced that it had successfully achieved a breakthrough milestone in scaling up the company's AirCarbon production technology to commercial scale at a multi-acre production site in California. Newlight uses a proprietary carbon capture process to convert air and greenhouse gases (GHGs) into a PHA bioplastic that features durability and performance characteristics rivaling those of petroleum-based plastics.
The conversion technology can synthesize high-performance thermoplastics from a wide range of sources, including methane and/or carbon dioxide from agricultural operations, water treatment plants, landfills, anaerobic digesters, or energy facilities. The process sequesters more carbon than it produces, pulling carbon from the air and generating a net positive impact on the environment. AirCarbon has been independently verified by Trucost in cooperation with NSF Sustainability as a carbon-negative material on a cradle-to-grave basis.
Dell is the first in the IT industry to introduce carbon-negative packaging, while Sprint is the first telecommunications company in the world to launch a carbon-negative product using AirCarbon. Both companies are known for its commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability, and view the use of AirCarbon as a major step forward in the pursuit of a more sustainable economy. According to Dell CEO Michael Dell, today's announcement is the next milestone in Dell's 2020 Legacy of Good plan, which includes 21 ambitious sustainability and social goals Dell is committed to reaching by 2020. "Air Carbon packaging and closed-loop recycled plastics are terrific innovations and big steps forward as we work with our customers and partners toward our 2020 goals," said Dell.
On announcing Sprint's decision to use AirCarbon to make the new iPhone cases, David Owens, Sprint's senior vice president of product commented: "This innovation is another example of Sprint's leadership in providing eco-friendly products to our customers."
Meanwhile, over at Newlight, which now boasts two facilities in California, the focus has definitely shifted, said CEO and founder Mark Herrema:
"We have spent over a decade optimizing our technology. Today, we have a four-story plant capturing carbon that would otherwise go into the air, using that carbon to make products that would otherwise be made from oil. As a result, our efforts have shifted from technology development to commercial expansion."
Newlight is currently working to expand its carbon capture operations at other sites throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.